Aida - Royal Opera House, 19 March 2011
I feel sorry for anyone who hoped to hear Luisi conduct Aida and now won't, because on Saturday night he did a superb job. He never achieved the blood-and-guts, life-and-death heights that Pappano can - but then how many conductors do? We're extravagantly spoilt in that respect.
On every other count it was hard to fault him. The orchestra played with spirit and refinement, the singers were wonderfully supported, and Luisi held enough back to make the big moments tell - the third act climax was a heart-racing eruption. He took the music at face value and invested it with a colour and delicacy that belied the work's reputation. It sounded fresh and new.
And all that despite the godawful fugliness of David McVicar's production assailing his delicate aesthetic sensibilities at every turn (incidentally, he was correctly dressed from spiffy shirtstud to polished pump, and emerged without a single crease). What a champ.